West Virginia Republican House Delegate Eric Porterfield is facing calls to resign after he repeatedly attacked LGBTQ people, likening them to the Ku Klux Klan.
Porterfield, a born-again Baptist missionary who is blind, told the Charleston Gazette-Mail Friday that LGBTQ people are a “modern-day version of the Ku Klux Klan” and reportedly used the world “fa***t” in a committee meeting Wednesday.
Porterfield later defended his comments and joked to a news station that he would drown his children if they were gay.
The West Virginia Democratic Party has called for his resignation while many Republican colleagues have tried to distance themselves from his comments.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Eric Porterfield Used The Term ‘Fa**ot’ at a House Committee Meeting
Porterfield first sparked outrage when he used the word “fa**ot” at a committee meeting last week, The Gazette-Mail reported. The lawmaker used the term while referring to former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos’ 2017 “Dangerous Fa**ot” speaking tour.
Porterfield made the comments in support of a bill that would allow anti-LGBTQ discrimination in cities that have passed ordinances criminalizing it.
Porterfield called those ordinances “nonsense” and a “travesty.”
“The LGBT is the most socialist group in this country,” he said. “They do not protect gays. There are many gays they persecute if they do not line up with their social ideology.”
He argued that religious people would be discriminated against under the amendment.
The amendment was later voted down.
Porterfield previously said that one of the main reasons he ran for office was to oppose a bill that would have banned so-called conversion therapy of gay children, a practice that has been condemned by every major medical association.
2. Porterfield Compared LGBTQ People to the KKK
Porterfield called a Gazette-Mail reporter to discuss his article about his comments at the committee hearing and made even more inflammatory comments.
“The LGBTQ is a modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan, without wearing hoods with their antics of hate,” Porter said in the interview, adding that the gay community was a “terrorist group” that he is being “persecuted” by over his remarks.
Republican colleagues were quick to try to distance themselves from his remarks.
“I hope that no one would make those kind of statements,” Republican House Speaker Roger Hanshaw told the Gazette-Mail. “That sounds like nothing I would certainly ever agree with, but I would want to talk to him before I comment on what he said.”
Hanshaw said there have not been any discussions about punishing Porterfield. “We’re not going to have a repeat of what happened last week, let’s leave it at that,” he added.
“He’s wrong, very wrong,” said Republican Delegate Daniel Linville. “There’s just no excuse though for some of the things that he said.”
“When we talk, and when we say things, we need to represent our caucus, instead of putting us, our caucus, out on a limb,” added Republican Delegate John Mandt. “[Porterfield] is a great guy, I just would prefer that we don’t put people down if they do something that you don’t personally believe in.”
3. Porterfield Joked He Would Drown His Children If They Were Gay
Porterfield responded to the controversy over his remarks by appearing on local news station WVVA in a pro-Trump “Make America Great Again” hat and doubling down on his comments.
He told the outlet that if he had a gay daughter he would take her out for a manicure and then “see if she can swim” or if he had a gay son he would take him out hunting and fishing and then “see if he can swim.”
“I’d just want to see if they could swim,” he quipped with a grin. “I’d take them out to do activities.”
4. Porterfield Faces Mounting Calls to Resign
The West Virginia Democratic Party called on Porterfield to step down after his remarks.
“West Virginia has no room for someone who expresses such hate. Let alone room for him to hold a public office where he is supposed to represent the people of West Virginia,” the state’s Democratic Party Chairwoman Belinda Biafore said in a statement.
“His hate-filled remarks and actions speak volumes and so does the Republican Party’s silence. The Republican majority’s leadership needs to condemn these actions. Their silence is complicit and the people of West Virginia deserve better,” she added.
Democratic Delegate Danielle Walker, a black woman with a gay son, slammed Porterfield in an interview with the Gazette-Mail.
“Why do we need more hate?” Walker said. “Why do we need more name-calling? Why do we need to reference other groups that illustrated so much hate and destruction and ugliness. Why do we need to do that?”
5. Porterfield Says He is The Victim of a ‘Socialist’ Plot to Get Him to Step Down
Porterfield tripled (quadrupled?) down on his statements in an interview with NBC News, alleging that he is the victim of a “socialist” and “terrorist” agenda because he received threatening messages in response to his comments.
“Let me very clear with my statement. The LGBTQ — not homosexuals — are the modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan,” he told NBC. “The LGBTQ — not homosexuals, but the LGBTQ — is the closest thing to political terrorism in America.”
“They are socialist in nature, they exercise economic extortion, they terrorize and frighten people such as myself, even with a severe disability, with threats and intimidation,” Porterfield added.
Porterfield went on to complain that efforts to ban discrimination against LGBTQ people is discrimination.
“You definitely should not be able, if someone disagrees with you, to force your lifestyle on their business, or in their housing, or how they identify their bathrooms,” he said.